It all started in December of 2009. It was a miserable cold and snowy day. A few of my family members were going out to a Steel Challenge match. This was my first match and little did I know at the time how much shooting would take over my life. I was cautiously optimistic about doing well. I had been practicing the last few months. I set up a steel target about 7-10 yards away and would just practice draws and firing single shots. Sometimes I would even go for "double taps". I didn't have any specific drills or things I focused on. I didn't know what I didn't know. I was wielding a USP Compact .40. While I didn't have a rude awakening at this match (I was able to place mid pack out of about 80 shooters. Not bad for a 1st match) I became an addict. A shooting addict. I was done for.
At that time I was shooting factory ammo. I was rocking major power factor and didn't know any better. I thought all guns kicked like mini hand cannons. I had brothers that reloaded their own bullets but hadn't paid it much thought. As I kept spending lots and lots of money on factory ammo I started giving it more thought. I started asking questions to see if it was something I wanted to do. I had no idea what reloading entailed. It almost seemed like something mystical. Making bullets in the convenience of your own home. Amazing! Like a little bullet factory. Pretty awesome. It seemed a little dangerous to me at the time because again I didn't know what I didn't know.
My brother had given me some recommendations and I bought some reloading components at the local gun store. I went over to his house and learned the basics of reloading. We were using an RCBS Rock Chucker press. It seemed so cool. I went to his house several more times loading up a few hundred at a time. Shortly after I went and bought my own Rock Chucker. I was happy as a clam. That is until I realized I could shoot twice as much for about the same cost. After loading 10k bullets on a single stage press I was looking for something faster. While my right arm started looking like Popeyes from all the loading, I searched and asked around what I should get. All of my shooting friends recommended a Dillon progressive. I had a friend that was selling a Dillon 550b for a good price and jumped on it. Man was that one of the better decisions I ever made. My only regret is not getting one earlier. While I would love a 650 or even a 1050, I manage to get along with my 550. I haven't outgrown it even to this day.
One of the main benefits of reloading your own bullets besides saving money is the ability to play around with loads. When I started shooting I was basically using major PF ammo. As soon as I got my reloader I started messing around with lighter loads. Lighter loads meant less recoil which meant faster follow up shots. Being able to conjure up super soft loads while still being able to cycle the gun became a game. Coming up with different loads for minor and major PF's was fun. Experimenting with different powders and bullet weights kept things interesting and fun. Cranking out bullets for practice sessions and matches does get a little repetitive. For some it is a tedious necessary evil. Others find it therapeutic. Whatever your reasons for reloading there are a lot of benefits of doing it.
So what is the point of this little story. Well there are several.
⦁ Reloading is not as daunting as it may seem. If you don't have any friends or family that reload and can show you the process, there are many videos on YouTube and books you can read to learn.
⦁ Buy once cry once. I had always thought that progressive reloaders were expensive and complicated. That's why I went with a single stage first. I should have read up and researched more and just gone with a progressive. Think about how much shooting you plan on doing and buy a press you won't outgrow.
⦁ You can save a lot of money reloading your own bullets. How much depends on if you buy in bulk or small quantities. My Rock Chucker paid for itself within six months. Granted I was shooting a lot but it will definitely pay for itself over time.
⦁ Coming up with a load that is both soft and reliable can be fun and can help your shooting.
⦁ Do your research. Ask your friends and family what reloading equipment they use and why. Determine if reloading is something you want to do.
⦁ Saving money with reloading can allow you to shoot more which will make you a better shooter.
Happy reloading. Shoot straight. Shoot fast.
Author - Pro competitive shooter Josh Wakamatsu.